Striding Edge and Swirral Edge, Helvellyn

by Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com Nov/2011
This route has been read 8,925 times
Walking

Overwhelming popularity cannot diminish the spectacular class of England’s finest ridge walking horseshoe, a circuit of the chiselled crests cupping the Red Tarn cove. Though hands-on challenge is very limited the name Striding Edge seems apt as you lope along its airy spine; ridges might come harder but they don't get better. To beat the crowds avoid weekends and bank holidays at all costs; misanthropes might prefer a lonely dawn start. For best results mountaineers should save this round for winter; it's too easy to be considered a genuine scramble in summertime.

+Helvellyn from Striding Edge, 209 kbHelvellyn from Striding Edge

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Detailed description

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NY3956415928 From the A592 in Patterdale follow the single track road up Grisedale, climbing a steep hill and passing a house and a wooded dell. Just beyond the trees turn right on a side track, crossing a bridge to reach a gate on the edge of a field. Take the path through the field. Beyond a stone wall this swings left to make a long rising traverse up Grisedale’s northern slope (a bit of a trudge if there’s soft snow). At about the 710m contour is the so called Hole-in-the-Wall, actually a stile; cross this.

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NY3592815515 The Red Tarn face of Helvellyn is now visible ahead. From the path junction take the route southwest along the broad crest. The ridge soon narrows into Striding Edge.

+Striding Edge, 108 kbStriding Edge
© Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com


From a minor top the crest continues as a gently serrated curving knife edge. Though it only demands very basic scrambling Striding Edge has a superbly airy feel (if you're really averse to heights a get-out path slinks along the N flank). Cross a level rock ‘pavement’, then continue over little bumps to reach a short downclimb just before Striding Edge meets the main mountainside. Negotiate this via a short broken groove on the left – polish shows the way. Beyond a little gap is a final rocky barrier, which can be skirted on the right or taken direct. A steep slope now leads to the summit plateau. From the memorial cairn at the top of this slope follow the plateau rim to the summit windbreak.
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NY3424615072 Continue north along the edge, passing a trig point to reach a marker cairn above the drop-off point (hopefully not literally) for Swirral (not 'squirrel') Edge. Though shorter, this is a worthy twin to Striding Edge. Initially the descent is fairly steep and needs caution if it’s icy or corniced. Sticking with the crest, scramble down a broken rock buttress to reach easier ground. The ridge remains sharply pronounced for a while, though an avoiding path soon appears on the southern flank if you prefer. Beyond a shallow rise is a small col, and the end of the good stuff.

The outlying pyramid of Catstye Cam can be bagged from here in about 10 minutes (optional). Back at the col, a well trodden path drops quickly into the cove.

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NY3504615425 Cross the outflow from Red Tarn and continue beneath the northern slope of Striding Edge back to Hole-in-the-Wall. Return the way you came.


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